This is a classic OLDOWAN PEBBLE CHOPPER AXE and is a perfect candidate for demonstrating the earliest primary human stone tool of the Oldowan Tradition of Africa's Lower Paleolithic Period. This specific example possesses a pointed tip, RARE for the Oldowan phase but the emergence of what will later be a typical feature of the later Acheulean technology where all typical hand axes show pointed tips rather than crude chopping ends. A natural pointed form of the stone was incorporated into a highly ergonomic grip - indications of high intelligence and adaptation in tool design.
This pebble axe was made from basalt and a beautiful quartz vein is running across the axe where the flaking begins on one side. Whether this was chosen and used to include this aesthetic feature by its original primitive human maker is hard to say but it likely was admired for the feature. The pointed natural end was oriented so that the pebble axe can be held in either hand with the point serving as a grip aid. The chopping end shows the emergence of highly advance tool technology where a fine and pointed tip was flaked in the center - the dawn of what was to become later Acheulean technology!
The minute crevices of the surface of the stone show no modern crushing or flaking and are filled with desert sediment testifying to its authenticity. The chopping edge is complete and undamaged as made with no modern handling damage. This would have been an ideal tool for secondary butchering tasks. The entire surface including the flaked areas show a spectacular "desert varnish", a thin, dark red to black mineral coating (generally iron and manganese oxides and silica) deposited on pebbles and rocks on the surface of desert regions. Studies indicate that the varnish materials generally are extracted from the surrounding rock and earth material. Wind abrasion removes the softer salts and polishes the patina to a glossy finish.
African pebble tools are not common on the market compared to their much later Acheulian relatives. This specimen is part of a very limited collection we acquired. Despite the fact that there are probably more Oldowan tools in Africa compared to the European specimens we offer, very few African pebble tools are collected or available for public acquisition. This offering poses a rare opportunity to own an AUTHENTIC example of the first known tool type made by humans - a window into the mind and design thought process of our earliest ancestors.
Oldowan pebble tools are THE FIRST recognized tools invented by the earliest of primitive humans from Africa. The Oldowan (or Mode I) was a widespread stone tool archaeological industry (style) in prehistory. These early tools were simple, usually made with one or a few flakes chipped off with another stone. Oldowan tools were used during the Lower Paleolithic period, 2.6 million years ago up until at least 1.7 million years ago, by ancient Hominins (early humans) across much of Africa. This technological industry was followed by the more sophisticated Acheulean industry. Oldowan stone tools are simply the oldest recognizable tools which have been preserved in the archaeological record. Early species of Homo such as H. habilis and H. ergaster are believed to be the primary tool makers of the industry during much of its use. Early Homo erectus appears to inherit Oldowan technology and refines it into the Acheulean industry beginning 1.7 million years ago.
The term Oldowan is taken from the site of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where the first Oldowan stone tools were discovered by the archaeologist Louis Leakey in the 1930s. Some contemporary archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists prefer to use the term Mode 1 tools to designate pebble tool industries (including Oldowan), with Mode 2 designating bifacially worked tools (including Acheulean handaxes), Mode 3 designating prepared-core tools, and so forth.
There is a flourishing of Oldowan tools in eastern Africa, spreading to southern Africa, between 2.4 and 1.7 mya. At 1.7 mya., the first Acheulean tools appear even as Oldowan assemblages continue to be produced. Both technologies are occasionally found in the same areas, dating to the same time periods. This realization required a rethinking of old cultural sequences in which the more "advanced" Acheulean was supposed to have succeeded the Oldowan. The different traditions may have been used by different species of hominins living in the same area, or multiple techniques may have been used by an individual species in response to different circumstances.
By 1.8 mya early Homo was present in Europe, as shown by the discovery of fossil remains and Oldowan tools in Dmanisi, Georgia. Remains of their activities have also been excavated in Spain at sites in the Guadix-Baza basin and near Atapuerca. Most early European sites yield "Mode 1" or Oldowan assemblages. The earliest Acheulean sites in Europe only appear around 0.5 mya. In addition, the Acheulean tradition does not seem to spread to Eastern Asia. It is unclear from the archaeological record when the production of Oldowan technologies ended. Other tool-making traditions seem to have supplanted Oldowan technologies by 0.25 mya.
No one can doubt the importance that pebble tools hold in the history of human development. Their very emergence in Africa allowed the earliest humans to butcher animals for their meat - the needed nourishment that allowed humans to survive and flourish to one day populate and rule the earth.